Lachie Neale leaves the field dejected after Brisbane's loss to Carlton in Opening Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

IT'S NOT quite the dream scenario he had envisaged for his 250th match, but Lachie Neale says he's stumbled into the perfect alternative on Thursday night.

Prior to the season, Neale was projected to play the milestone against North Melbourne last Friday in his home state of South Australia as part of Gather Round.

However, the dual Brownlow medallist suffered a hamstring injury in the Opening Round loss to Carlton and was forced to miss the following week against Fremantle.

Now he'll play his milestone against high-flying Melbourne in a Thursday night blockbuster.

Lachie Neale shakes hands with Hugh Greenwood during round four, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"It was meant to be last week in Adelaide, which would have been cool in front of family and friends, but having it at the MCG is pretty nice as well, the home of footy," Neale said.

"I'm looking forward to running out there hopefully with (two-year-old daughter) Piper if she's still awake, get her on the field, and have my family and (wife) Jules there and a couple of friends might journey across from South Australia.

"It should be a nice celebration for them, but I'm firmly focused on the result and the process to get a win at the moment and hopefully play my part and have a good game against Melbourne."

Lachie Neale in action during round four, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Neale is confident of overcoming an ankle niggle that hindered his preparation to face the Kangaroos and saw him subbed off, as a precaution, at three-quarter-time of the 70-point win.

He gathered 14 of his 27 disposals in the match-shaping first quarter to continue a strong start to the season, that included a best on ground performance against Collingwood the previous week.

Neale said the Lions moved the ball well during their first win of the season, but would need to find another gear against the red-hot Demons.

"We know how prolific Steven May and Jake Lever are with their intercept marks, and they've got other guys performing so well down back that we will have to change angles and use the free player available instead of just bombing it in long to Joe and Eric and hoping for the best," he said.

"There'll be times we have to do that, and we need them to compete, but when we've got time and space and free numbers, we want to be able to use it and I think the first few weeks we weren't doing that well enough."

Noah Answerth (left), Lachie Neale and Jarrod Berry celebrate Brisbane's win over North Melbourne in round four, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Neale paid the ultimate compliment to Melbourne, a team Brisbane lost to by a point last time they met at the same venue in round 18 last season.

"We've had great battles with them for the last four or five years. They're a great side and we love matching up against them.

"They probably are the benchmark of the competition in my eyes at the moment. It's going to be another great battle.

Kysaiah Pickett celebrates on the final siren during round 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"If we play our best footy, we think we're a big chance to get the win.

"They've got great players across all lines of the field, and I really respect that footy club and the way they've gone about things.

"For the last five or six years they've been an unbelievable organisation."